BY MICHAEL GOODPASTER|
(FOUR) LOVE & RESPECT
Michael Jordan took his mediocre Midwest team from obscurity to being one of the best basketball dynasties of all time. People know this, people respect this, and people will always love him because of it. The common LeBron sympathizer will say, “But Jordan had a better team around him!” That’s lame. The only other Hall of Famer and consistent All Star Jordan ever had on his side was Scottie Pippen. Scottie was a great number two, but other than that the team was famous, good, and more than a footnote BECAUSE Jordan brought them to their best playing levels. Horace Grant and Rodman were both great power guys, but nothing much else than that. They’d get their boards, bang away under the basket, and played their roles perfectly. Of course, Rodman was a bit better and more famous because of his antics. Still, there were some great players on that team, but none of them could of went off and contended on their own. No way about it. I honestly think LeBron could have done this in Cleveland, but chose not to. The whole “ESPN presents LeBron James’ Ego Stroke 2010” fiasco was a bitch slap to the cities of New York, New Jersey, Chicago, his home in Cleveland, and anyone else who follows sports even in the slightest. For a few weeks all we were told about was how he was trying to make a decision and all the hoopla that came with it. You can’t fault him for making his own choice, but it’s how he did it that’s lame. He basically gave half the NBA blue balls. This bad case of blue balls will not be forgotten and people in these cities will now forever hate this man. Jordan was hated by teams too, but that’s because he beat them all the time and it hurt their feelings. Hurt feelings are easier to get over than blue balls. It’s a fact.
Both were at the height of pop culture and all that was cool. Jordan had his “Air Jordan” shoes and eventually his own fashion line, cologne, Hanes underwear, Wheaties, Nike, McDonalds, Coke, Hot Dogs, Chevy, and anything you could put his signature or that little dunking man logo on. We won’t even get into the fact he was so popular that they made “Space Jam” with the Looney Tunes with him. Everyone, including “The King”, wanted to “Be Like Mike”. Who can blame him? Still, LeBron is there too, there’s no denying it. He’s got a lot going on. His shoes sell lots, he’s in commercials, and he even had his own Bubblicious bubble gum. I always thought that was kind of cool. Then he’s got Sprite, State Farm, and Vitamin Water. He’s got McDonalds and Nike too, but this doesn’t measure up to MJ’s impact on sports marketing. Michael Jordan is a pop culture icon the same way Elvis Pressley, James Dean, Babe Ruth, and JFK are. Michael Jordan is STILL a more marketable and famous marketing tool than LeBron and he’s not played in a long time. While LeBron has been talking about how he had to do what’s best for “his brand” is one of the most retard-diculous things I’ve ever heard. Michael Jordan was a brand, LeBron James is a flavor.
On the court, they’re both big time clutch players who are always spotlighted for their buzzer beaters, huge games, and all the stuff that make them the best of their eras. Jordan had a little more style though. MJ had his tongue-out dunks, his occasional playfulness, and his powder clap in front of the late great Johnny “Red” Kerr. LeBron is kind of just like everyone else. I don’t care how many shots he makes, he always has this lost look in his eyes. He does the powder thing too, like Jordan, but it’s a way bigger dog and pony show when he does it. MJ just did it to screw with Johnny and the fans were in on the joke. The number 23? Yeah, we know who started that trend. LeBron James is being given a pat on the back for “taking less money” in order for his team to be able to bring in more super star players to make him look good. Meanwhile, Michael Jordan sacrificed his soul, his time, his family, and his everything to be the best player in the NBA. How come LeBron couldn’t jack that part of Michael’s swagger?
When you compare these two careers up until this point in LeBron’s versus where MJ was at the same time in its pretty close. LeBron came in and was averaging just over 20 points a game in his first year, but it shot up to over 27 points a game since. Jordan came in averaging 28.2 for his first two seasons and THEN came into his own. Yeah, Jordan’s weak 28 point years still beat LeBron’s best 27 point averages. MJ racked up seven scoring titles and “The King” has one so far. He could catch up, but it’s doubtful now that he’ll be forced to share in Miami. You could argue that James is more of a rebounder and assist kind of guy, but not by much. When you compare their first seven years LeBron has averaged 7 boards and 7 assists. Jordan a measly 6 boards and 5.6 assists. So sad, huh? Before going to Miami it was almost a shoe-in that James, at two already, would easily beat Jordan’s five career MVP awards. Those are the stats that make All Star MVPs, but the stats that make legends are the rings. There are no hobbits in the NBA, but the Jordan has SIX more “preciouses” than LeBron’s ZERO. The thing is, Jordan didn’t start winning his NBA Championships until his seventh season. LeBron enters his seventh season with the most padded team in NBA History. If LeBron doesn’t win it this upcoming season it’s a flop. If he wins like everyone can almost shrugging-ly expect there’s a footnote mentioning the 2010 NBA Free Agency and “ESPN’s Decision 2010”. Jordan was expected to win because he slayed all the monsters and was the proverbial “Lord of the Rings”.